Stephen W. Smith

Stephen W. Smith teaches African Studies at Duke. The Scramble for Europe: Young Africa on Its Way to the Old Continent was published in 2019.

Philanthropic Imperialism

Stephen W. Smith, 22 April 2021

For​ eight years, France has been fighting jihadists in the Western Sahel. The first deployments were in Mali. Others followed, across a swathe of arid land south of the Sahara, from Mauritania’s Atlantic coast to eastern Chad, a landscape of sand and igneous rock eight times the size of France. The French expeditionary corps (5200 troops on last year’s count) has won every...

Diary: Sankarism

Stephen W. Smith, 30 August 2018

Thomas Sankara​, the revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso, was shot dead in the presidential buildings in Ouagadougou on 15 October 1987. I was the West Africa correspondent at the time for Radio France International and Libération, based in neighbouring Ivory Coast. The day before the assassination I got a call from Sankara. This was a first. We knew each other well but, until then,...

From The Blog
10 April 2018

In apartheid South Africa, ‘the enemy’ was ever present, day and night, from the public toilets you couldn’t use to the neighbourhood you couldn’t live in, by way of police raids at first light to check on your bedfellows, or simply to keep you terrified. When Winnie Madikizela-Mandela – who died on 2 April at the age of 81 – spoke of ‘the enemy’, the words had an intimate ring.

Short Cuts: The ICC

Stephen W. Smith, 15 December 2016

The​ South African president, Jacob Zuma, has notified the United Nations of his country’s decision to leave the International Criminal Court in The Hague and is encouraging other African countries to follow suit. No one should be surprised. African doubts about the ICC have been growing ever since a sitting president, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, was indicted by the court for war...

The Suitors: China in Africa

Stephen W. Smith, 19 March 2015

In​ 1969, three years into the Cultural Revolution, China was not only poorer than most African countries but suffering from a massive famine. Mao Zedong and his colleagues decided to import vast quantities of wheat as a way to address the food crisis and, more radically, to change the staple of their 800 million countrymen: wheat has a higher nutritional value than rice. That year, a...

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